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Call for political action to Free Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu Al-Khair

Many activists including myself have signed this statement (and it isn’t the first time we’ve done so) condemning the treatment of Raif Badawi who is being imprisoned, lashed, and may even be executed for merely founding a website (Free Saudi Liberals), being critical of the regime, and “insulting Islam.” Condemnation of violence and atrocities is never enough. We need to put pressure on our government to take action against Saudi Arabia.

As a member of this electorate, our voices are more effective when we speak together, so if you sympathise with the plight of Raif – as well as many others who are the victims of systemic religious prejudice throughout the world, such as bloggers in Bangladesh – then please put pressure on your local MP to back this statement.

Theocratic nations like Saudi Arabia with its regressive religiously inspired penal code might not care what we think, but that’s only because no consequences for their actions are forthcoming. WE can be the motivators for such action and help to end these practices:

Call for political action to Free Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu Al-Khair.

Charlie Hebdo and Blasphemy: Pick Up Your Pen, Not Your Sword

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In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, January 7, 2015 in Paris, many opinions abound, and it becomes difficult to offer any unique insight of one’s own without being drowned out, or indeed, wondering if you should offer anything at all.

Opinions range from outright disgust and condemnation to stating that the cartoonists deserved it. But there also exists a slightly more insidious view:  that of condemning the killers and also condemning the cartoons. I have no doubt that people who say something along the lines of “While I condemn the killing, nobody should insult the Prophet” think they’re protecting all Muslims and their sensibilities. They’re also justifiably protecting themselves from reprisals. But perhaps this view deserves scrutiny in itself, and Tehmina Kazi does an excellent job of simply explaining some of the misconceptions that create such a position.

I would urge us, if we haven’t already, to think before acting, and to consider whether protecting rotten behavioural yardsticks such as blasphemy, even with the best of intentions, is the right thing to do. After all, lampooning religion isn’t done to upset the religious, but to challenge bad ideas.

Continue Reading this article at Atheist Republic.

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UK Law Society Withdraws Practice Note on Sharia Succession

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“The UK Law Society has rescinded its practice note relating to the drawing up of Sharia compliant wills. Such wills stated that “illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs. … The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir. … Non-Muslims may not inherit at all. … a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir. …” This has been welcomed by many as the UK’s legal sector finally making a statement against the practicing of Sharia in Britain.

The campaign against the guidance included groups such as South Hall Black Sisters, One Law for All, and equality and social justice campaigners across a diverse scope of representation, from LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell to feminist comedienne Kate Smurthwaite”

Continue reading this article at Atheist Republic

 

A Religion of Peace or War: Both Actually.

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Calling any religion, a religion of peace is a problem. We might wish they were, and our media takes every opportunity to tell us that they are despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but that isn’t the same as it being true. Blanket statements to the effect that they are, negate any need for criticism or improvement and for this reason are not just misleading, but dangerous. Tony Blair would have us believe that violence in the name of religion is  an ‘abuse of religion’ and a ‘perversion of faith.’ This is probably a well intentioned attempt at preserving community cohesion, but it’s anything but true as Ian Reader, a Professor of Religious Studies at Lancaster University succinctly points out. Such sentiments enable the ‘moderate’ believer to rest easy, knowing that they’re unlikely to have to change their opinions, but then the fanatic can equally believe that they don’t need to either, because after all, theirs is a religion of peace too.

Freedom of Religion, and Freedom from Religion

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The NUS And Islamic State: Why Islamophobia And Imperialism Shouldn’t Mean Pacifism.

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The National Union of Students (NUS) won’t condemn Islamic State (IS), because it would be Islamophobic to do so, despite the proposal being tendered by a student of Kurdish descent. This tells us quite a bit about ‘Islamophobia,’ and the associated post-colonial rhetoric that stifles discourse on these issues, ultimately forcing people to be tolerant of the intolerant… lest they be branded intolerant. It also tells us that gross generalisations occur on both sides of an argument even by those claiming to be addressing them. Read the rest of this entry

Bangladesh arrests atheist bloggers

 Credit; Euronews

For those concerned with recent events in Bangladesh with regards to the suppression of free expression and prosecution of atheist bloggers. Below is a letter I have sent to the High Commission of Bangladesh in order to help raise awareness of these events and others across the world. These individuals need our help to protect their freedom of expression and right not to believe. If you feel moved by, or feel that such a struggle represents your views, I implore you to take action in any way available to you such as sending a letter to their ambassadors or joining a local protest. The International Humanist and Ethical Union can provide resources for such a letter writing campaign. The demands of those that persecute the bloggers as well as Christians in the country (Muslims) can be seen here. Their justifications predictably come from God and their chants are savage including “one point, one demand, atheists must be hanged”. It is only through our action, that the values of a free, democratic, secular society can be protected.
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In a galaxy far, far away, there was an offended Lego minority…..

Toy: The Jabba's Palace Lego set has been criticised by the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria group, which has described it as offensive to the Muslim community

Credit; Lego franchise

“Austria’s Turkish community claimed a victory in its fight against Danish toy giant Lego yesterday after the firm agreed to withdraw a Star Wars toy set featuring a mosque-like building inhabited by an obese, hookah–smoking alien, following complaints that it was anti-Muslim” – The independent.

Suppose they should be taking action against the entire Star Wars franchise too? It’s ludicrous. This is what you get when countries and people endulge the nonsense and buckle to pressure from the hyper-sensitive community on anything but it’s especially dangerous when applied to Islam. Salman Rushdie, the Danish Cartoons, Sam Bacile’s movie, all resulted in this hyper offence taking over nothing more than art, total drivel in the case of Bacile’s film though. The results being an offer of money, in public to murder Rushdie, and actual murders in the cases of the cartoons and the film as well as acts of social and political intimidation. Read the rest of this entry

The intolerance of faith – Lars Hedegaard assassination attempt

Lars Hedegaard

Lars Hedegaard. Photograph: Henning Bagger/EPA.

This is what the Religious conservatives of Islam (not only Islam however) fear. A 70 year old man exercising his freedom of Speech to criticise their opinons but then they also fear young girls like Malala Yousuf that just want an education. In both very different instances a gun shot is what it comes down to. The Religion of peace? Not so much when left in the hands of fanatics with whom bigotry and totalitarianism are core values.

A word in balance must be said here though, it is not helpful to essentialise all Muslims as being of the same intolerant creed. Some are moderate believers taking only the good from their faith and using it to bind community.  Read the rest of this entry

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